Tag Archives: memories

dumb question…

can you have flashbacks of non- trauma memories?

Or, at least I don’t think that bit was traumatic…

It happened at mil’s house tonight, both the kids were doing their homework. Our great niece kept doing anything but reading, and MeeMa kept telling her to “read [her] book”. For a few seconds, I was a kid, hearing that same phrase while doing homework… it was my aunt saying it? Or maybe my mom? I’m not really sure, but it was an adult female in the family and it wasn’t bitch… Or maybe it was?

It was so strong in the moment that it happened, but it’s mostly faded now.

I did recall feeling uncomfortable, like i was waiting for more fighting, but… it was such a weird moment… and it wasn’t a flashback directly to a domestic violence moment (the only kinds that come with visuals and sound for me. The sa memories are 90% physical with only the vaguest sense of what the situation actually was)…

I dunno… it felt so real though, and it’s so dissolved now…


jumbled, confusing, pre-verbal stuff

Some days, the sensations in my body make me want to rip my insides up so I could stop feeling them.

We talked a bit about memories and sensations and interpreting pre-verbal stuff. She said that sometimes the pre-verbal is all a jumbled mess, and sometimes it’s interpreted by what we can later connect to it, even if its not accurate to the moment.

I told her sometimes it feels like I’m one of those plastic dolls whose legs pop off if you twist them back enough… I know it can’t possibly be an accurate memory because I have both my legs still. She pointed out that it may have simply felt as if my legs would rip off, but I had no other reference for it at the time, so my brain made the connection to those toys, and kept it because it’s the “best explanation”…

We also talked about how there’s still this internal pressure/compulsion to talk about some of the flashbacks sometimes, but it tends to get caught up when I walk in to her building. I no longer have words for it, and the connection to it leaves, so I struggle to bring it up… We talked around that for a bit, and got a tiny bit in one direction, but then time was up.

Some days I wish I could bring her home with me in my pocket so I could pull her out and talk when the strong drive was present… it only still feels ok to talk when it’s almost impossible to do so. I guess there’s a measure of safety in the impossibility of it.


To Dr. C

Dr C,

Talking to A Monday brought stuff up, but I’m not totally sure what. There’s a lot of the past floating around, and I’m finding myself really easily startled and frightened…

My head was literally spinning today, it triggered vertigo somehow.

There’s body stuff I’m feeling, and… I don’t even know what else. My heart races over nothing. I feel shaky, like I haven’t eaten in days, but in reality, I’ve been stuffing my face. I wanted to cut; to destroy my body; to pulverized it and stab it and shred it and break it and burn it… and by my body, I mean my pelvic area, where the feelings are creeping in again.

I wish we hadn’t talked about body. The kid really wanted to reach out, but my mouth was glued shut. I wasn’t sure how to speak about it without just screaming… so I kept quiet.

Only now the things I didn’t say are finding other ways to be noticed.

I really wish you were here coz I could talk to you about it, but you are still away through Monday… I don’t feel comfortable bugging A about it. There would be too much to explain… she kept saying she didn’t know my history; she hadn’t read what you gave her. Part of me wished she had. That way I wouldn’t have to figure out how to cram an explanation into the session and still have time to address what was happening in the moment… or just skip it all together because I couldn’t condense it that far.

I can feel the anxiety rising again. There are memories and fantasies and fears all happening in my body at the same time. It feels like I’m throwing imaginary scenarios in to drown out whatever is trying to surface. Imaginary stuff that I create in my head is much easier to control (and tolerate) than the stuff that actually happened (maybe? They’re memories, right? They’re valid? Or maybe even those are all stories?…).

I want to do that body drawing stuff she mentioned because it feels like something the kid could use to communicate. He still needs a translator, but maybe that would help? He seems connected to the idea…

I want to try some more kid techniques sometimes. Maybe the stuff that’s stuck would become unstuck? The kid that talked to De while I colored really likes that idea too. She wants to do more of that. She liked talking… I think she told the boy, because he keeps peeking around the corner wanting to try it…

There’s really not these others inside, but it just feels like there are others there, and I just don’t have a better way to describe the feeling.

SJ’s gone. I miss her. She was the most brave about talking. She was the face of the other kids. I dunno where she went. The boy misses her too, and the other girl and little blue monster all miss her. She was both 7 and 70. She was protective, but little, but also… I dunno. A container for the other kids? Now that she isn’t here, the others have to speak for themselves? Maybe she split into them when she ran off? She was older when she left though. She felt… I dunno. She wasn’t really older, but now the memory of her feels older? Does that even make sense? She left as a kid, maybe 5 or 7, but now the memory of her leaving feels like a young adult having moved away from home to get on with her own life. She pops by to say hi every once in a while, mostly to the kids, but she’s moved on with her life… like the babysitter going off to college or something.

I know these are all constructs of my head to order and make sense of things (and to keep safe), but it feels so separate. It kinda feels like other people who maybe speak a foreign language, or are extended family, or something… I dunno.

And they shift and change over time. I guess it’s me shifting and changing things as my understanding does the same. Sometimes they make sense as they were, other times the narrative needs to change to compensate for discrepancies. I guess it makes total sense if you look at it all as constructs of my head to help navigate life… they change with my understanding and head-space.

I’m really glad you will be back next week. I hope the trip was fun. I’m really glad you are back (and I was really relieved when I saw you post stuff on ig)…


nightmares

Haven’t woken that terrified from a nightmare in a long time… the current president started a nuclear war, and bombs were going off on the horizon. Everyone I was close to was out and about at the time. There was nowhere to go to be safe, and the other people in the room just watched out the window at all the mushroom clouds…

I can usually wake up and ground myself, but the fear from this one isn’t leaving as easily (doesn’t help that whatever this ailment is effects my heart rate. It shoots up with the slightest effort, and stays there for the next few hours)… also doesn’t help that current leadership is stupid enough to do something like that… 😟😭

It’s weird; the nightmares of the past that should truly terrify me simply make me numb, but ones like t-rex from Jurassic Park finding me no matter where I hide, and this morning’s nightmare… I can’t shake them after I wake up. There’s something to be said for dissociation and numbing. It certainly makes life emotionally easier to float through.


It feels weird; like part of me is still living back in the space that had me hospitalized so often. I get these little glimpses of remembering being in the hospital, and it feels so real in that flash of a moment. The other times, it feels like I’m living in both times at once, only I’m separated from the past by this frosted window. I know the gist of what’s happening, and I can kinda feel it, but it’s distant and away at the same time. It’s almost like knowing and faintly hearing someone watch a movie in the next room; I can hear it, I know the movie enough to mostly know what’s happening moment to moment, but it’s still something I’m not directly experiencing in the moment. The flashes of memory are like walking through the room for a moment and catching parts of it as I pass the tv. I’m not totally paying attention, but I notice it…

Yeah… kinda like that…

I’ve been remembering the various hospitalizations since Wednesday when Dr C brought up the drawing I left with her a few weeks ago… it’s not all restricted to the content of the drawing; its just all of the experiences mashed together. It’s not linear. It doesn’t really make linear sense, but it’s all memories of those times…

L had an unusually late chemo today, and there were a few times I really had to work to ground myself. I kept panicking that I was there because I was locked up, not because I was supporting L through chemo… being the only ones in the room, and it having gotten dark intensified the fears.

Psych hospitalizations are really dehumanizing. It didn’t matter that you likely already feel like crap; the process and experience make it all that much worse…

I dunno…

I hate when all of this comes up when I can’t actually process it for several days. I don’t know what to do with it. It pulls me in, even when I don’t want it to. I know I’ve been distant and spacey a lot today. I’ve been having a lot of trouble seperating from the memories. My brain is living in both times at once, and it’s distracting (even if I feel like I’m mostly in the present, it’s difficult to concentrate when the past is so “there” but indecipherable…).


Talking about level of dissociation (for the first time… again…?)

My level of dissociation came up again in therapy. She mentioned DID. Apparently she’s mentioned it before, but I just filed it away. Deep away.

I cringed at her labeling it DID, so she called them “ego states”.

I dunno. I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around it all week…

I feel like I need to reach out to everyone I’ve ever worked with to find some corroboration… did anyone else notice the intensity of the dissociation? Did I mention anything about the abuse? Was there any inkling of anything other than major depression and anxiety? Did any of the 18+ therapists I worked with over the years try to clue me in and I just forget?

There were times I remember being told there was more behind my symptoms than just the domestic violence, but no one could tell me what. There were large chunks of time I don’t remember, but I also don’t have any info on what went on during those times…

I have a few records of what happened while I was “out” and hospitalized, but they aren’t very detailed…

I dunno.

I feel like I need someone else to say “yes, this is what we’ve seen all along”; not because I don’t trust Dr C’s assessment, but because I don’t trust what I’ve presented to her… it feels like I’m exaggerating everything, and the words I use give the wrong impression. It feels like I’ve fabricated it all for some reason I don’t really understand.

I dunno…


Flashbacks (**trigger**) 

I was laying in bed, trying to avoid waking up, when a memory of duckboy hit me out of nowhere. 

**trigger** I could feel his hand holding my wrists above my head. I could feel his crushing weight on top of my body. I could feel his fumbling hand. I could feel his slimey, sloppy kiss, his grinding body… and everything else he did that time. **trigger**

It was all condensed into about a minute or less, but my body is still tingling. There are still echos of the memory…

He used to insist it wasn’t sexual because we had our clothes on. I only resisted so many times before giving in. It was always easier to get it over with than to try to squirm away from under his almost 300lb frame…

For the longest time (we’re talking almost 20 years), I was adamant on only calling it “very insistent”. Whomever was hearing it tried to rephrase it as assault, and I would correct them. I refused to put that label on what he did (partially for his sake, partially for mine)… I had flashbacks at the time, but I wouldn’t remember them after they passed (or even understand that I had one). It wasn’t until my long bout of hospitalizations, where medical records contained notes of me crying and trying to explain the memories, that I finally realized something more than just the memories of my parents fighting was bothering me… Dr C was the first person who heard me admit that what duckboy did might have been rape. I was still terrified to tell her any details, but at the same time, I started desperately trying to write down what I remembered in the flashbacks while they were happening. I knew if I didn’t write in the moment, I’d forget it again as soon as it faded. 

The first time I wrote it out, I was journaling on my phone. It was the early days of smartphones though, before apps saved what you were doing should you be interrupted. A call buzzed in and erased everything I had tried to write down… I took that as a sign that no one needed to know the details. I also switched to trying to capture it on paper. I was anxious someone would find it, read it, and know the things I had done, but i really wanted to be able to read whatever it was I kept remembering and forgetting… It was maybe a year later before I tried to bring up the content of my flashbacks again in treatment. 

—————————-

I was hoping writing about the flashback this morning would help it fade faster (it sometimes works that way), but I’m still feeling echos of memories. I guess my body wants to make me listen. Stuff had been stirring all week, but none of it had been this explicit; there were no real defined cognitive memories, just body sensations. Now, even the echos have snippets of whole memories attached to them… I guess its good group was cancelled and I was able to get individual instead. I don’t want to have to keep sitting with this all weekend. 


Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


More anxiety

My chest is still tight. 

Woke up today… triggered? It’s not exactly the right word for it, because triggered implies more intensity. I was “on”, activated. I started journaling about the story playing out in my head. When I went back to it later to proof read it, it felt hollow and substance-less. I thought I had put more detail, but I guess most of it only played out in my head only. 

The story I woke into left me feeling triggered and on edge. I really wanted to cut. I was aware of the intensity of the desire for the release and balance that comes from it. I was also aware that I needed to try to avoid it… I decided to take a shower.  My usual showers last about 30 minutes on a good day, without that loop that has me feeling unable to get clean… Anyway, today’s shower took almost an hour and a half. I can’t recall any reason it would have. For some reason, I lost an hour in there. And when I was done, I no longer needed to cut. I know I didn’t (I wasn’t bleeding at all), but the desire was abated and my body was a bit sore… 

The loss in time caused me to run late for therapy…

I talked to Dr C about it a bit. She then mentioned something related to family that I had apparently told her previously. I don’t recall telling her anything like that, and I’m not sure I would have necessarily described things in that way, but I believe her when she says it’s something I’ve said to her… that got us onto the topic of dissociation and memory gaps. I expressed my frustration at being faced with more recent episodes of amnesia. I understand the function of it for traumatic events, but this random trigger that somehow connects to the trauma thus leading to dissociation frustrates me. I thought I had gotten to a point where I didn’t completely lose time anymore, but apparently I’m not. I still forget spans of time. Today it happened twice totaling over two hours. The second time happened while shopping after therapy. I thought I had been shopping for maybe an hour, but I had been there for 2.5 hours. Nothing notable happened, but it’s occurrence confuses me. Maybe it was left-over triggering from either the “memories” this morning, or my session with Dr C…

With this sudden increase in noticed loss of time, Dr C suggested I leave pen and paper around in hopes I may journal while checked out. She suggested journaling on my phone may be too complicated in a dissociated state. I dunno. It’s comfortable enough a medium for me… I’ve checked out while trying to journal in my art journal before and ended up just sitting frozen in that position while I was “out”. I’m not sure leaving a pen and paper around would do much. I think i’m more likely to journal on my phone. I know I’ve done that in the past while I was dissociated. Sadly, the app I had used at the time glitched and I lost most of that journaling. I do recall at one point before the app failed that I read several entries I had no memory of writing. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve found a few entries I don’t recall at all, along with several I’m aware I wrote but cannot feel a connection to. I also know I’ve written quite a bit while dissociated in my private journal blog… none of it looks like anything vastly different than what I remember writing except for the entries that detail the flashbacks and memories; those I constantly have to reread in order to know what they contain. I have the general gist that they describe details, but I wouldn’t be able to recite most of it without reading it. It feels like someone else’s story…

Anyway, I think I lost my point for this post. I feel a bit better though. The anxiety isn’t as crushing after writing for a bit. I don’t necessarily feel grounded, but my chest isn’t tight and twitchy. I still want to cut, but I think I can get myself to bed without giving in. I just hope I can actually sleep tonight. I have work tomorrow. It’ll likely be a 10-hour day again. They are so exhausting, even though they “only” involve camp…

Oh, another stressor; my disability is being reviewed. I think I filled out the form correctly, but I was partially dissociated while doing it. I’m a bit worried I might lose my benefits. I felt weird getting it in the first place, though the providers I worked with seemed to think it was appropriate. I know I don’t have the energy to look for (and accomplish) full-time work. I currently don’t have the emotional head space to succeed at it even if I tried. I feel fake though. I should be able to suck it up and plow through all this. I should be able to be productive in society. I shouldn’t be so lazy and unmotivated… I feel like i’m wasting resources, but Dr C says it’s not a waste. She says having needs and taking time isn’t wasteful… I dunno. I think being so needy is wasteful and a pain in the ass, but she disagrees…

There’s that anxiety again. Guess I should sign off before I send myself into a tizzy over something which I have no control…

Sorry this post is so long-winded. I hope it makes sense and that autocorrect didn’t butcher it too badly because I have no energy to proof read just now…


Art journaling again, finally

It’s been a while, huh? 

The weekend went ok after fixing the art piece, though we didn’t really do much more with it. We were going to, but something else sidetracked us (though in the moment, I can’t really remember what it was). 

I’ve been really stuck in my art. I’ve completed a whole bunch of backgrounds, but nothing really finished. There were also a few doodles, but again, all unfinished and directionless. 

I think I managed to get through a piece tonight. I got further than any other piece in the past several weeks… I was trying for a Halloween theme (because, well, it’s the only holiday I really like, and it usually inspires me). I started it earlier this week but got sidetracked (themes much?). I grabbed some supplies I thought would work with the existing background. I started laying down washi tape. It wasn’t really a pattern with any real direction though, and I got stuck again. 

I began flicking through the screenshots on my phone (inspiration images, things I find interesting, quotes that stick out to me…). I landed on a quote that seemed appropriate; “it takes a huge effort to free yourself from memory” – Paulo Coelho. 

It fit the background and the washi tape pretty well. It also gave me more direction for the page. 

I used crackle paste to form the silhouette of a brain. Appropriate, since lately my brain feels cracked and broken. I feel cracked and broken… I know sometimes I feel these really horrible things, but other times I have no connection to any of it. I have these huge walls that I feel almost no control over. They slam into place with little warning, and they have very little seepage. 

Anyway… yeah. Here’s the page:


If I stop for too long, my head starts chattering away at me; my body picks up with a vengeance… 

I can’t slow my heart rate down with any reliability lately. It’s been in the 100’s for the past week straight. That hasn’t happened since the move (or, I haven’t noticed/kept track). It’s nowhere near the 140’s it used to be, but it’s also an increase from the 90’s it had been of late… I can feel it working. I wouldn’t call it pounding so much as quite noticeable. At least the “flopping fish” feeling isn’t back, and the tightness from last month is gone. 

I should just go take my sleep aid, but that’ll require a bit more conversation with myself. When I told Dr C that I knew it was only L and the cats in the bedroom, and that the dogs were lose in the apartment overnight, yet I still couldn’t bring myself to walk in there easily, she changed the perspective. She pointed out that L and all the animals are in the house with me. No one can come in or do anything without being noticed. Maybe getting to look at it that way will help. 

I still have to take the dogs out one last time before bed. As cute as he is, I’m hoping the little skunk isn’t back tonight. It makes taking them out a longer process (they are easier to handle one on one when there’s prey around, and the skunk is only prey if the little guy gets riled-up. The girls don’t much care about wildlife when they are on their own). 

The “hands” won’t leave me alone… they get quieter if I can be distracted enough, but then they return. 

I was trying to see if my insurance would cover a weighted blanket (something I’ve found to be helpful in feeling safe enough to sleep), but they were dodgy about it. I have to get the appropriate treatment code to bill under or its not even considered. They won’t tell me the treatment code though. I wonder if I asked Dr C about it, would she know? She has a fair amount of experience working with autistic clients and definitely trauma clients. Maybe she’s come across the code before? I wonder if her recommendation would be enough, or if it’d need it to come from an OT or a medical doctor. 

We’re still working on the “hall pass” idea, though I’m no closer at having something to try than I was last night. Maybe she’ll think of something to suggest? 

I feel weird going back every day this week. Originally it was to try to get some emdr in, but since that’s not been something I think I am ready for at this moment, we’ve just been talking… Maybe tomorrow we’ll get to the art… I’m not in crisis, but the pressure to keep talking about the memories is strong. I’ve opened them up recently, and now they are spilling out. I’m relieved I can spill them to Dr C rather than try to contain them till next week. I hope she doesn’t get too sick of me.


Exhausted

Therapy was difficult today. I’m back to insisting I’ve made everything up. It’s too much to swollow to believe it’s not all made up…

I think I started crying like three times with her. I rarely cry, but lately it seems to come more freely in therapy… I felt really small. And the thought of ever having been a baby terrified me. 

I’m really lucky Dr C is so patient. She puts up with all my crap, and still agrees to see me again…

We were going to try to do some art today, but I digressed. I showed her some [graphic] stuff in my journal, and then we talked more about it. I still need to come up with an acceptable “pass” to allow myself permission to step away from triggering situations. I think we are going to work on that more tomorrow and next week. I’m not sure I have a good idea of what might work. I need something that will not only give me internal permission to step away, but also that would potentially make it ok for anyone else I’m with. When triggered, I feel an obligation to stay in the triggering situation if there’s someone else there that may disapprove of my leaving… it’s difficult to find something that may meet all those conditions. 

So yeah. More therapy tomorrow. I didn’t want to leave her office today, but at the same time, I wanted to be out of there already. It felt safe, but I was really overwhelmed. I wanted to keep the safe feeling while escaping the overwhelm. 

The feeling of desperately wanting to shred my flesh off so I stop feeling the flashbacks has abated somewhat. I still want to obliterate my brain, but that can temporarily be accomplished through alcohol…


They feel far away

It doesn’t feel real anymore, those “memories” that felt so real when I lived down south. The further I get away from having lived there, the less convinced I am that they were real…

Dr C says that it’s “normal” for trauma memories to be encapsulated & only accessible during certain conditions… I believe her because I trust her expertise, but at the same time, I doubt the validity of my own experience. Yes, if they are true, they explain a lot of seemingly random and unexplained things (like my strong negative reaction to male genitalia, my intense dislike of being touched unexpectedly, the weird body sensations that seemingly never leave, the huge gaps in my memory…). But…none of those memories feel real anymore. As out-of-touch with my earlier adult life as I felt while living at home again, that’s how out-of-touch I feel with what came up living “at home”. The only difference is that I had proof of my early adult life (a resume I could look back on, friends, my wife, journals to re-read, etc). I don’t have that for my life growing up. The only journals I still have are ones that talk about friendships and kid things. There’s nothing in the book I found that would corroborate the story in my head. There’s no person that could or would validate it. Bitch took my journals from middle and high school when she stayed in my room after I had moved to my aunt & uncle’s house down the street for my senior year in high school (they were already dead and the house had been sitting empty for a few years. Some vandalism happened. I jumped at the chance to get away from my parents’ constant battles and offered to “live” there). It started as only sleeping at their house, but eventually I spent more and more time there. At the point I left for college, I had been living at the house full time for several months. My mom moved in there shortly after I left for school; she needed an escape from my dad also… he was really abusive to her. I think she used the excuse that I had left my animals at the house and they needed tending, combined with the house needing the “security” of being occupied. My brother stayed with him in their house, but he had always been safer with G. There were a lot of double-standards flying around when I was little, from both sides (though it took me a lot longer to see some than others). My brother got away with a lot by my dad. He was held to much different standards by my mom & K. The same was true on the flip side; I got away a lot lighter with mom & K than I did with G… I realize now that so much of what I thought was normal growing up was actually really abusive. I had thought my brother escaped much of it, but in reality, he just caught it on another front. 

I’m connecting with some of those memories that came up while living down south simply by having talked more about growing up, but they still feel just barely out of reach. It feels like something I can just barely brush my finger tips against if I reach out really far. They don’t feel totally fake when I think about the specifics of growing up there, but they still don’t feel real either. Part of it is that I don’t want to delve into describing them too much here. What if they really are simply a sick, twisted story I tell myself. If I wrote about them, they would potentially be damaging to those others involved. Unlike the domestic violence incidents, I have no corroboration to them and they are not “public knowledge” within my circle… it feels irresponsible to write too much about them right now. Another part is simply that they are very disturbing to me. I’m afraid of thinking about them and accidentally flooding myself with trauma memories I can’t contain. They do enough of that unbidden, there’s no use inviting it outside of the safety of Dr C’s presence… 

They’ve faded again for the most part. It’s back to the faint tingles in my body, the echos of touches… these I can handle at this level for the time being. There’s no drive to cut the memories out of my body. They don’t trigger a desperation to be rid of them at the moment. They had in the past; it’s how I ultimately ended up at The Center in DC 5 years ago this past week. They had tripped me over into desperately doing anything to change the sensation in my body. I didn’t understand them at the time, I just knew when they got bad, I needed to cut the feel of duckboy out of my body… and in my dissociated state, I admitted to the doctors that there were other memories I was trying to cut out, but the only ones I consciously remembered then were the duckboy ones (it was a combination of disturbing and validating to go back and read that the concept of other sexual abuse had been brought up years before I “remembered” it down South. I have no memory of telling the doctors at the er, but apparently I did during more than one visit. And I didn’t read those files till after the memories surfaced with De; after I had switched to TL)… if I think too much about them, or let my brain wander towards those memories, they intensify and threaten to flood again. I can’t afford that right now…

Now I’m afraid to write any more and also afraid to put this down to try to sleep. They feel closer again, threatening again… I feel like I have to keep rambling to “hold the door” against them, but not rambling in a direction that helps them push forward. Maybe if I put this away and try some music I’ll be able to sleep for the hour or so before I have to wake up. I could ease some of the tension and just cut, but that would bring about a whole host of external consequences I really dislike. Better to sit with those urges instead of giving in. I’d break my “clean” steak also, and that would be frustrating to realize in the morning… yeah, better to try to listen to music and sleep a bit more.


Surprise! Another trigger…

There was a scene in the Empire pilot where one of the sons was remembering the first time he dressed in his mom’s heels in front of his dad. The dad got really mad and grabbed the kid. He stormed out of the room with the kid under his arm. The mom yelled after him, scared and angry…

Something about that scene hit home, but I’m not totally sure how or why. It hit really hard. It winded me and made me cry. It felt overwhelming and heavy. It still feels overwhelming and heavy… I can’t tell if I related more to running after him screaming, or watching him storm off with the kid, or being the kid under his arm… or maybe all of it? But it dug at something deep.

Part of me wants to reach out to Dr C, but I can’t justify bothering her on her weekend. I’ll just try to cover it Monday (along with everything else I want to cover – how to deal with her month away, more of what was in that journal entry from 2 weeks ago, the anniversary, the growing depression…)

I want my heart to creep back into my chest; it’s still on the floor…


Avoidance

I think I need to have a conversation around avoidance with Dr C… I find it difficult to go in after a week and try to delve right into difficult stuff. I tend to talk about the weekend and allow the session to veer from the heavy things I’ve been holding onto for the week. I was able to eventually mention the memories from the weekend, but I didn’t talk about it to the degree I wanted to address it….


train of thought crashes into a memory?

Was on the way home from a friend’s house. In the lane next to me there was a dog barking out the car window. I mentally noted how happy I was that this set of dogs doesn’t do anything like that… I thought how annoying it would be to have to drive with a dog that needed to pace back and forth between windows and bark at everything. I remembered an old dog who did not ride well in the car. She would do ok on short trips, and if the windows were open, but the long drive I took was a tough one. I remember her sounding like a squeaky door the whole way. I remembered who was with me on the drive. I remembered how annoyed he was with her, and some of the mean things he said… and then I started feeling things in my body. I had a brief flash of something specific, but it had to have been a mixed-up memory. The angle of the image I got was off… actually, it’s a near-impossible angle to get (at once laying down and sitting up)…

Can’t shake the creepy feeling since. Can’t shake the body memories.

It’s one of those times where it hit at a moderate level and has remained that way since. It’s bearable for the time being, but I hope it fades soon.


Insomnia is back

I wake up these last several weeks to the slightest noise, then I can’t get back to sleep. Tonight, one of the dogs barked once. I thought she had to go out, so I got up to take her. Turns out she was just trying to get the neighbor dog’s attention… that was an hour ago.  I have to be up again at 6 for work. I have a feeling I’m finally going to have fallen asleep again right as my alarm goes off…

A few days ago, we stated watching Game of Thrones again (from the beginning, because we were lost about the story line for the new season, and because I never really made it past season 2 episode 4. Anyway, I didn’t realize how triggering some of the scenes would be. They had made me uncomfortable the first two times I tried to get through the series, but this time they tugged at some memories… I think the memories were there itching for a reason to jump in my face again, and this was their convenient excuse. I think the combination of poor sleep, pms, stress from work/life, and little time to unwind are also playing a role. I dunno. It’s getting loud though…

Maybe tonight when I go back to bed, I can actually sleep. And if little dog doesn’t get demanding in the a.m., I might even be able to sleep in Sunday morning.

This week was long in terms of work. I’m really grateful next week goes back to the light schedule. I’m going to make a concerted effort not to pick up shifts for people next week. My boss only has me in for the usual 2 days. I need that break to recharge a bit (I need to keep remind myself of that).


There’s fiction in the space between…

Sometimes, I “remember” things that at other times I’m positive couldn’t have happened… but in the moment of “remembering” they feel so real I could taste and touch them.

I know exactly how it feels on my lips. I can taste the mix of sweat and cigarette smoke… in that moment, I know what’s playing in my head was a real event. But then the moment passes, and I can list a million reasons that event could have never happened…

I know the difference between my imagination and reality. I know those were never my fantasies… but what else could they be because I also “know” they are not actual memories. I should have remembered them all along. I should have know. I would have known.

But… ugh! I know they are at once real and fake. I know they are not only a cry for attention, but also a plea for attention. I know this, but I don’t.

I never talked more about duckboy at the time because I “knew” I consented by not fighting, by not screaming, by not pulling away, by obediently doing what I was told (MY had argued the point over and over again. She convinced me that a situation like that was consenting in its lack of resistance. The people that had experience with sexual abuse disagreed with MY, but her stance was easier to swallow. If it wasn’t abuse or assault, then I had nothing to worry about)… but why was I so compliant? I know I had learned somewhere that to simply do what I was told, or let him do whatever he wanted, meant that it would go easier and faster. I knew what it would feel like, I knew what to expect from my body. At the time, I couldn’t tell you how or why I knew this, but I knew.

When I first “remembered” the other stuff, it felt like an elephant kicked me in the chest. It took my breath away. I was driving home from therapy and I had to pull off the highway. I remember calling De in a panic and begging her to tell me all the reasons why what flashed through my head and body wasn’t actually true…

I repeat those same defenses against its truth to myself often: it was something I saw on TV or read in a book, It’s my imagination, it’s the stories of my clients’ pieced together and told with people in my own life…

And at the same time, it can feel so damn true. I know things because “I just know.” I don’t know how I know, I just know… I feel things for no reason other than I have a very active imagination; I’ve pieced together different events and written them with all new characters and story lines. I have a really good imagination. My body plays along with that amazing imagination to give me a better fantasy life… yeah. That’s it.

In the shower today, I remembered something, but it quickly gave way to something I know for sure is not a memory (feels different, and was drastically embellished from the actual events. I think I do that as a defense and a means to keep distance from the other stuff)… but now I’m not sure if the start of it was actually a memory, or just a play going on in my head. I can’t even really remember the beginning part anymore, just that it was disturbing and felt very real.

How can something feel so real and so fake at the same time? How come I can’t talk about it even in vague terms outside of therapy?

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Echos

It’s been a while again, hasn’t it?

I ended up being able to ask for some more of what I needed, though it was incredibly difficult. I did it with Dr C’s help, but didn’t stop shaking for about 3 hours afterwards.

Visited my mom, and that was difficult. She’s in a tight spot but I don’t know what I can do to help. I worry about her a lot. I wish I could do more.

Pretty much been working or helping people out since my return from the trip. I’m exhausted…

This morning I woke to echos of the past. They’re different though. It’s not the flashbacks and memories of my childhood. Instead, it’s memories and feelings of the times I was in and out of hospitals. It’s a feeling of… I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s a “hospital hangover” without having been there? It’s a weird, floaty, disconnected, being-in-two-places-at-once feeling… and my chest is heavy and breathless… and my head feels foggy. It’s an intense memory that’s just out of reach. I can feel things on/in my body, I vaguely hear the bustle of an emergency room (complete with monitor sounds and medical personnel), but it’s out there, like I’m hearing it from a semi-conscious state. Maybe it’s remembering the time I OD’d, or one of the times I was severely dissociative and hospitalized? I dunno…

It’s weird and it’s throwing me off.

I feel like I should be elsewhere…

————–

I had text Dr C earlier mentioning some of this. I hadn’t meant to worry her, but I did 😦 she called a bit ago. I didn’t know how to describe what’s going on. I managed to get a bit of it out, and she suggested I call her if it gets worse, or if I want/need to talk. I hate worrying people. That wasn’t my intent with the text, I was just trying to reach out 😦 kinda glad she called though. Glad I could kinda come up with some words around what’s going on… I wish I wasn’t so disconnected. I feel like I’m on the verge of autopilot. Can’t afford that right now. Need to stay here and grounded. Work later today should help…


So many layers!

I think I’ve finally finished that fold-out, multiple-layer journal I started forever ago… it’s truly a mixed media piece. I don’t think there is much I didn’t use: spray inks, collage, acrylic paint, stamping, two types of embossing, textiles, sewing, pen, charcoal, wax pencil, stencils, rub-ons, stickers, washi tape, vintage paper, grommets… among all the layers, I used a ton of stuff (my journal isn’t too happy about it; the spine has been stretched almost to capacity). I think I finally feel like it’s finished (it only took 2 months). I have to admit, the hidden layer was way more triggering than I had expected. It made me want to rip my insides out in order to stop feeling the body memories. The additions I did to that page took less time and artistic effort than any of the other pages combined, but it took the most emotional energy. I stuck with it though and just kept going with the art. I focused on painting the heart and getting it closer to anatomical correctness. I thought about asking Dr C for support, but changed my mind. I was determined to wade through the triggers on my own… it worked. It took all day to complete and now it’s waiting for Monday when I can talk to Dr C about it.

Here are the finished pages (except for the hidden layer):

The top page says: “be the author of your life… write your own ending”
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The left page (with the heart) says; “don’t think of all the things you fear, just be glad to be here”, and the right side has a Harry Potter quote; “I don’t care! I’ve heard enough, I’ve seen enough, I want out, I want it to end, I don’t care anymore!” … “you do care. You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death from the pain of it…”
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And some progress shots:


It was a good weekend

It was a good weekend 🙂

There was a snow storm, but we only got about 5″. The dogs enjoyed playing in the snow. L’s boss got them out on time Saturday night so they could travel safely.

Sunday L and I actually finally got around to starting a joint art project. We ended up doing half and half of a large canvas. The original idea was “you do something, then I do something, then you do something…” but we got distracted with our “sides” and just kept going. It’s still a work in progress, but I like what we have so far.

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It was really nice being able to do something creative together.

We also spent some time watching our newest series obsession: nurse Jackie. We got into it last weekend when hulu had a showtime special for the weekend. Now we binge-watch as we can. There was one scene though that was pretty triggering (and relatively out of nowhere). Jackie and her husband get into an arguement while driving somewhere. He gets mad, pulls the car over, and gets out. In my head, it replayed a memory of one of the many fights my parents would get into, only instead of the husband getting out and walking away, I remembered my dad screaming at my mom and pulling her from the car. I expected the husband character to start pounding on the car as my dad would have. I expected the kids to panic and fear for their mom’s life as I would have…
It wasn’t a flashback, as much as just an intrusive memory coupled with strong emotions. Even thinking about it now enough to write it, I feel the fear in my chest…

I had meant to talk about it a bit with Dr C today, but we chatted about other things instead (like employment plans and art techniques and the dog). Part of me wants to jump back into the working world with both feet. Dr C reminded me that it’s ok to take things slow. I have this comfort/disgust relationship with being on disability. It’s nice to know I have a safety net, but I also feel useless and worthless. We talked about being on disability, and Dr C pointed out that I am on it for good reason: my mental health deteriorated so badly in the past that my condition was very close to being lethal at the time. It really was/can be a life-or-death thing with me. Sadly (or not?), I have no connection to that state of mind if I’m not in it. Dr C reminded me that it is common with dissociative disorders… I just want it under control enough to get back to being productive again.

Another thing giving me pause about trying to get back to the working world full-force is the panic I felt when Dr C mentioned she will be away for 2 weeks starting the end of this week… I’m not sure why it’s such a scary thought, but it really is. We scheduled a second appointment for this week because of it. Hopefully I can be open with her about my panic. I’m sure it’s just an anxiety reaction, but… :/ I think I might cry.


“It sounds like a little kid thought process”

We talked in therapy today about how the distraction and delay is morphing the urge to self-harm into a drive to accomplish the hurt in some way. It feels like there’s no balance without the hurt. If I don’t do it to myself, I need someone else to do it for me.

Dr C asked if there was an urgency to the feeling, something along the lines of “let’s hurry up and get this over with”… then it hit me: it’s anxiety over what is “supposed” to happen next based on all the signals and triggers. Dr C suggested that it was a “little kid” way of gaining control over the uncertainty of when the unpleasant event would occur (she used the word “abuse” but I hesitate to call it that… not that it wouldn’t fit the label, but I can’t call it that at this time). Hurting myself would give me control over when the hurt happened. It would also set in motion the unpleasant consequences I know would follow (and of which I dread the arrival). It would end the anxiety… I guess looking at it like that, it makes sense. I’ve struggled for years with trying to understand the drive for being hurt after being triggered. She summed it up in a few sentences.

I wish I could have said that this revelation helped alleviate the desire to cut, but it’s still there. I’m still feeling the need for the hurt. I know I’m safe in the moment. I know this last week brought up a lot of old stuff. I’ve been running the grounding mantras through my head since the triggers first started, but my body is not listening. The sensations aren’t letting up. The stuff that was triggered last night keeps playing out in my body. No amount of reasoning is helping that…

We talked a bit about the distance from the newer memories that has grown cavernous since the move. I was telling Dr C that every time I got to a place of accepting that those memories were fake, they would pop up in a flash then hide away again. She suggested that it sounded as if I had processed them and filed them away again. I’m not sure they feel “processed” so much as they feel disconnected. I don’t remember them at all, even when I read what I wrote about them (those just seem like stories). There’s no emotion around it unless it comes up in flashback form. I’m totally seperated from it. Dr C still calls it “processed”, though we did throw around the idea that I’ve simply dissociated it again.

I didn’t get to voice my desire to pick up the therapy pace, but she offered an additional session this week without my asking. I don’t really have the gas money, but I took her up on it. I really need to launch myself past all this. The more depressed I get, the more I fear falling apart again. I don’t want that to keep being my future. It’s scary and hopeless. I want something better.


Self portrait – 100 mile stare

This pretty much encompasses today:

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I might redo the face tomorrow (have another idea for it), though I might not. I suppose I should keep the drawings as they are, and watch the progression/change as I get practice under my belt.

This one is definitely reflective of the mood of the day: distance, disconnect, attempts at grounding…


Missing people & vulnerability

Suddenly missing De a lot.  I think it might have to do with recently being asked to submit art for a domestic violence awareness exhibit next month…

It’s a weird feeling; missing someone who played a really significant role in your life, but who you will never see again.

My train of thought then flips to TM, who I also miss. I could probably call her though. I could get away with some form of connection by listening to her outgoing voice mail greeting (wouldn’t presume to cross boundaries by actually calling when she could pick up).

Going to see Dr C in a few minutes. Bringing in my inside out box to show her. Not quite sure why it’s something I want to show her at the moment, but likely has to do with missing De… also with feeling very vulnerable lately. I dunno.

Vulnerable and overly emotional for no real reason. Trying to figure out if there’s an anniversary of any sort coming up (or recently passed), but nothing significant comes to mind. The closest I can think of is that this time of year was when I started talking to De about Duckboy details (should never have done that, it helped burn her out)… two years ago this month was the first time I every shared any of what he did… the memories of what I went through with him feel fake also (unless they are intruding upon my body). Maybe I’m just exaggerating everything…

The little kid inside is out…


believing myself

I find myself struggling with the believability of my memories once again.

In the moment of re-experiencing them, I know they are true. They feel very real on every level when I’m actually remembering them. It’s the times between the flashbacks and body memories that have me doubting. They don’t make sense when looked at in terms of other memories. They actually feel contradictory at times.

We covered the doubts a bit in session. Dr. C isn’t so worried about the validity of them. She keeps reminding me there’s no one she would tell, so even if they are all a story in my head, then we can address that too without hurting anyone’s reputation. She asks about the concept of “doing it all for attention”, and as soon as that concept hits my awareness, there’s a panic: No! DON’T pay attention to me. Let me hide and melt away. PLEASE don’t see me or hear me or even know I exist… It’s a little-kid fear. It’s in a little kid’s voice in my head.

I’m not sure why I’m so worried about the validity of the memories all over again. I had gotten to a place with TM where we were just addressing the concept of the memories & how they impact me. I was “talking” about them & getting them out. All of a sudden, I feel like I’ve taken several steps backwards with Dr. C. I feel the need to figure out if they are real. I need to justify voicing them once again. I’m not totally sure why. Part of it may be that I have to re-tell her the stuff I had already told TM (even if it’s just the existence of the memories, not necessarily the details of them). It may also be that Dr. C is an older woman. There was that parental transference with TM and there’s definitely some going on with Dr. C also, but maybe I’m feeling that as well as what I might have with a grandparent this time… The disapproving voices in my head that are louder are from the older women in my family this time around.

Working on containment since the session. I keep visualizing the pensieve holding everything, and hiding in a pillow fort in Dr. C’s office for most of the day. Keeping the desire to bug the heck out of Dr. C and/or TM in check. I know I’m looking for a sense of safety and comfort, so I’m trying to find that around here. Music is playing, doggies are cuddling. I even had one of the snakes out for a while (really wish I could train him to do deep pressure on command).

Anyway, how’s everyone else doing?


quote – never stop yourself from living

Life is painful and messed up. It gets complicated at the worst of times, and sometimes you have no idea where to go or what to do. Lots of times people just let themselves get lost, dropping into a wide open, huge abyss. But that’s why we have to keep trying. We have to push through all that hurts us, work past all our memories that are haunting us. Sometimes the things that hurt us are the things that make us strongest. A life without experience, in my opinion, is no life at all. And that’s why I tell everyone that, even when it hurts, never stop yourself from living. ―Alysha Spee


an end date…

There was so much I wanted to talk to TM about today, but none of it made it to my lips…

We did talk a bit about last week’s confession around how shitty I’m feeling. We also tried to brainstorm some stuff to give me structure. Well, ok, TM tried to brainstorm. I was having trouble focusing. They moved to the new office over the weekend. I guess today was their first day open at the new location. Nothing was ready. I almost wish TM would have just rescheduled me either to later in the day, or another day. It would have sucked, and I would have felt like shit, but it would have been more productive than today. I guess we were productive for stuff on her end, but not on mine. I kept paying attention to all the noises elsewhere in the office. And the room we were in reminded me very much of a hospital… I hope next week it will be more settled.

She kept trying to tell me it was ok to ask for more support. She talked a bit about the various therapeutic programs and how they took a while to get into. She mentioned some volunteering. I just couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying.  We determined that our last session would be June 23rd…

I kept wanting to wheel myself out of the room (we were both in rolling desk chairs). It looked and felt too much like a locked unit. I kept worrying that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave. Rationally, I know that wouldn’t have happened, but it triggered the fear in me. I wasn’t able to put together that I was triggered till long after I left her. I just knew that in the office, I kept pushing myself and my chair as far back as possible, and I was scared of TM. I wanted to reach beside me and open the door, but I kept thinking it was locked. It felt like TM was matching my discomfort because her chair was all the way back against her wall also. I’m not totally sure if she realized that, or if it happened by accident. I kept waiting for the conversation to turn to me needing a higher level of care, and then being hospitalized. It didn’t happen, but part of me was surprised to have walked out at the end of session. It’s not even like I mentioned safety concerns to her, we actually talked about how much better I have been handling this than in the past. It was just that the room looked so much like a locked mental health unit, I couldn’t pull out of the fear…

I think we may have talked about other things too, but I’m not sure what. Maybe those things took up the whole session time. I know I wanted to tell her some of the stuff flying around in my head. I wasn’t sure how to get them past my lips. I wanted to hand her some of the stuff I had been meaning to give her for the past 2 weeks. I wanted to talk a bit about the support forum. I wanted to talk to her about my experience talking to a friend about some of the stuff TM and I have been covering. None of it squeaked out. None of it made it through the panic.

I kept apologizing for being a pain in the ass. She asked again what made me think I was being annoying. I tried to convey that I had answers, but couldn’t find them in the moment, and that is what I thought would annoy her. I couldn’t get past the internal panic though… I kept giving her “I don’t know” because I couldn’t access the answers in my own head. I couldn’t “act as if”. I couldn’t function… I tried to think whether or not I would be annoyed at a client if they presented like I did. I landed on “no”, but I also could not then translate that to apply to myself. I tried to tell her my self-esteem and lack of self-worth didn’t allow me to move out of that head-space, but it all sounded like jargon to me. I imagined her thinking how annoying I was, how frustrating and resistant and willful I was being, and that if I could just stop being that way, we could get somewhere. I tried again to gain an outside perspective, but I still couldn’t apply my own patience with others to myself. Who am I to warrant any compassion? (At the time, a combination of speaking with a DBT clinician and multiple hospital experiences were crowding my head. I remembered being blamed for not trying hard enough, for not being able to use my skills, for being resistant and willful and deliberately sabotaging my recovery because I was stubborn. I couldn’t separate it from the experience of speaking with TM in the present. I couldn’t look at her, and in my head she looked like the DBT clinician L)…

I did manage to tell her about the line of thinking that allowed me to see some smidge of self-worth last week, and how I kept going back to it to try to get through the weekend. Even as the words left my mouth though, they felt stupid and contrived. I was suddenly reacting to her like I would have G. I was afraid that if I said the wrong thing in the wrong way, or because I wasn’t calling her the most intelligent and worthwhile person on the planet, I was being disrespectful. I didn’t attribute all of my change in thinking to her though. I told her of the success and quietly waited for her to blow up at me… Again, the full realization that I was triggered and responding to the past rather than TM or the moment only hit me long after I left.

We set up a time to check in on Thursday. I protested about being bothersome, so she was going to leave it up to me to call if I needed, but I was able to tell her that I would prefer having something scheduled. I told her I would probably agonize over calling her then end up not deeming anything worthy of bothering her for. She said we would schedule it and she would call Thursday… She left an invitation open for me to call tomorrow too if I feel I need it. I instantly shook my head. That would be too much of an imposition to be able to agree to. Though thinking about it now, I may leave her a message hoping it lessens the anxiety. I would like to be able to let her in on what went on for me today without wasting too much session time.

Even writing about it all is triggering a lot of anxiety and fear. I really hope next week feels different. It will be more than a week for settling in (because of the holiday next week), so I really hope they get things decorated and set up better. And I really hope TM’s office doesn’t feel as triggering as the random room we were in today. When I speak with her on Thursday, I should remember to ask if it would be ok for me to leave her a message over the weekend to help get through it. I know she won’t be there or anything, and I wouldn’t expect a return call. It just sometimes helps to leave her messages.

 


More art journal progress

I was all about avoiding stuff yesterday. To that end, I played a bunch with my art journal. It doesn’t look like much progress, but lots of time was spent organizing my supplies because, well, avoidance.

wpid-img_20150425_223137.jpgI finally got around to making use of the little buckle findings from the Tim Holtz line (had gotten an “as is” pack several months ago and meant to make a closure for my first art journal, but that didn’t materialize). Anyway while catching up on Arrow and a Sleepy Hollow, I did the buckles:

 

wpid-wp-1430025053079.jpgI also worked on the tiger wing page more. The writing is excerpts from lyrics to Faith Hill’s “if you’re gonna fly away“. I changed two lines where she spoke of prayer to more accurately reflect me. “Has the sun gone down on you?/Have you given up on truth, oh?/I wish I could say all the right things/To make your pain go away/I wish you knew how beautiful/You are in every way/…So you’ll take a thousand pills/Hoping to be numb/Lie awake in bed/Counting all that’s wrong//No one understands/No one ever will/Trust me when I tell you/I know just how you feel…”

 

wpid-wp-1430024972849.jpgAnd finally, I added lyrics to the rose page from the other night. There’s a Tori Amos song called Blood Roses that fit the page pretty well… “Back on the street now/Can’t forget the things you never said/On days like these starts me thinking/…Now you’ve cut out the flute/From the throat of the loon/At least when you cry now/He can’t even hear you…”

 

Like I said, it doesn’t look like much progress, but it took me all day (probably because I couldn’t concentrate to stay on task for the life of me).

The depression is definitely still here. I was going to try to go to the beach today, but it took all my energy just to shower (which was a first in 5 days). I could have left the house, but I’m finding it harder and harder to do. The overwhelm of what it would take to get out of the house, coupled with the huge lack of reward, is making it seem nearly impossible. What’s the point trying?

I also find myself once again doubting these recent memories. If they really are accurate, how come I didn’t remember them before? Sure, they explain my intense anxiety around going to bed, and some other behavioral or cognitive things, but… memory can be unreliable. It could all just be something I’m fabricating in order to make sense of those symptoms that make no sense. The visceral reactions to certain triggers may just be a learned response. If they are false, no restructuring needs to happen around my understanding of life. If they are false, then it was all just for attention… If they are true, the world changes. I’m not sure which I prefer: am I narcissistic and unable to survive without a sob story, or did yet more really crappy stuff happen in my life that will change my understanding of childhood? Can I pick neither?


That declined quickly

For some reason, my filters were “off” in session yesterday. I think it might have been a combo of anxiety, having a ton of stuff I wanted to cover, too much coffee in the morning, and excitement over free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s…

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I was bordering manic-level with my chattering to her. I was honest about my thoughts around processing stuff, what I expected my reactions to be, and that I wanted to push through anyway. I told her why I worried I’d be a pain in the ass. I told her I was sure my neediness would kick into high gear, and I’d end up calling frequently if the overwhelm got too high. I think she kinda gave me permission to call in her reaction to my statement, even if in the next breath she had to acknowledge the reality of her limits (I said something along the lines of “if we did that, I’d probably be calling you every five minutes” to which she responded that she would then pick up the phone every five minutes for the next week, “well not every five minutes, that would be impossible…”). I don’t think I’d honestly call that much, though I would want to reach out a lot. I would likely just agonize over it and maybe call her once or twice, but it would feel as annoying to me as calling her every 5 minutes.

Anyway… yesterday was productive I guess. I didn’t cover what I really had hoped to be able to say, but I was honest about a lot of things. We agreed to push on this processing stuff. She was trying to figure out of it would be better for me to put off the homework till closer to the next session since I tend to think about stuff right away which gives me too long to stress over it and put up walls around it. We decided to just do it however it happened, and she again told me to call if stuff got too much. I’m not sure if I was taking her permission into account, or I was simply distracted, but I didn’t start my homework from her till late last night (I usually at least start to think about before I even leave her office; way too many years of being conditioned to do homework before anything else).

The actual homework she gave me was to write down some of the fragmented memories that are bothering me, put them in some sort of chronological order or categorization, add in what emotions went with the memory, write out an alternate ending to the memory, and finally, write out the positives in my life despite those memories.

My immediate thought when she first mentioned it was to find a roll of paper and do a time-line style thing (in crayon, coz I found a nice big box on sale. They need to be used at least once before the dog finds them and I’m left with nothing again). I’m not really sure how else to depict how unsure I really am about the chronology of it all. Some of it I can kinda place based on the setting of the memory or how old I look based on what my body looks like in it, but saying something came before or after something else is about the best I can do. To place even that much, I need to put in the other landmarks I am sure of (births, deaths, moves…) so a visual time line feels easiest for me.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever that neat and tidy. I started my time-line with the intention of keeping it to the basic landmarks while trying to place the fragments accordingly. It was going ok until I forgot how unstable everything in my closet actually is. Suddenly I was at the bottom of a giant pile of memories and emotions. All I could do was sit there with music pumping into my ears. I stared blankly at my time-line for a long while (long enough for the cat to sit on it, then realize he wasn’t actually obstructing anything by sitting there so he left – his plot for world domination foiled again…). I think after about an hour, I was able to move again. I left TM a message asking if it was ok to do that part in session with her, and that I would do the “positives” stuff she asked me to do even if I didn’t do the rest.

We had briefly talked about the concept of flooding with all this processing. I’m not sure what part of my brain prevents me from understanding the full impact of stuff like this when I’m sitting safely in her office, but I was so convinced it wouldn’t be as overwhelming as she was cautioning it to be. I understand the concept of flooding. Been through it before. Clearly got stupid around remembering what it is actually like in the moment… I think my bravado around it comes from the concept of not going there alone, when in reality, it wasn’t supposed to be something I was going to do with anyone else around. While the flooding technique to deal with anxiety is generally done with a trained, supportive person around, the flooding that comes with this processing would happen alone… why do I always forget that? I’m always expecting more support around it than is possible… 😦

When all gung-ho about getting through this stuff, I need to try to remember it will always be done alone unless I were to try residential treatment for it. :sigh: it’s not that I’m mad at any person for this, it’s just the nature of available trauma treatment out there. Funding sources pay for only so much, the rest needs to happen as it can, without additional support. This doubt around the thought of processing stuff on a regular outpatient schedule always comes up when I start to get to work. I remember the panic of feeling so alone in it all, and I wonder if I shouldn’t hold off until I can afford an inpatient/residential option… as helpful as that would be, I can’t afford it any time soon, so what do I do with all this ickiness in the interim?